Being prone to anxiety and panic attacks sucks. For years now, since I was 18, I have had period panic attacks. And I'm really glad to see I'm not the only person suffering from the exact same symptoms that all of you guys keep describing in your messages. I mean, it's like we're writing each other's life stories, don't you think? And from what I've read, it looks like anxiety/panic and hypochondria go hand in hand, because we are forever looking to doctors and hospitals to diagnose us with something - anything - just to let us know WHAT is wrong!?!?!
But nine times out of ten, or even more than that, it turns out to be nothing physical causing our symptoms. When I think of all of the money we've collectively spent on doctors and tests and hospitals and everything else, just to find out that all of the tests have come out normal and we're not actually suffering from a medical emergency - then I think that we'd all have enough money to buy ourselves a mansion in beverly hills. Or at least a week's trip to Europe or something.
People who have never experienced a true panic attack don't understand. That includes majority of the people who know me, including my family and friends. They think that I'm some kind of weirdo when I tell them how I'm feeling when I'm having a panic attack. And seriously, you guys know exactly what it feels like, you really do think you're going to die. I'm glad that my Mom has had panic attacks sometime in the past when she was in college, so at least she knows what it feels like. But she doesn't really get them any more, so she's lucky.
But I feel like everyone in my life just doesn't understand me. I feel like my anxiety, which causes my panic attacks to happen, is something that I just can't control, and that the people in my life think I'm some kind of freak just because I keep looking for medical answers for my symptoms. Those things that we feel during a panic attack are very real. The heart rate increase is real, as is the high blood pressure. The headaches, the cold sweats, the shakiness, and head pressure, ALL of these things are really honestly happening. But I guess, at least for us, the REASON why it's happening is not grounded in any medical reason. It's not due to any horrible or terrible terminal illness, as we often keep thinking it does. Rather, it is brought on by our minds, and the issues that we are currently facing in our lives. I keep thinking that if there were a way for me to deal with all of my stress in a more productive way to get it out of my head, then I wouldn't be suffering from these panic attacks.
But in the meantime, I guess I'm just glad to know that I'm not the only one who runs to my doctor everytime I feel something is "off". I'm not the only one who wakes up in the middle of the night with my heart racing. And I'm not the only one with the shortness of breath and feeling of having a heart attack at the worst part of the actual attack of panic. You're all having the exact same problems. And part of me is glad to know that when you've went to the doctor to get tests done, it came back normal. That means that chances are good that I'm not physically sick, either. Do you know what I mean?
Guys, we're all having the same problem. And it's great to know we're not suffering alone. It's really great to know that there are other people going through exactly the same thing I'm going through at any given time.
Indeed panic attacks do suck! I guess I am somewhat more fortunate than you in that I come from a family of anxious people (not just nervous, I mean clinically anxiety-disordered) so at least my mother, siblings, and some various relatives understand what I'm going through. My husband has been great even though he didn't quite know what to make of it at first. If you'd like your family to have a better understanding of panic disorder, you may want to pass along some books or literature to them. It sounds as if you have a good grasp on what's going on. As time goes by and you get better, you won't run to the doctor at the drop of a hat. Your panic will either fade away for good (or go into a "remission") or you'll learn what is "normal" panic for you and realize that, nope, you are NOT dying and roll with the punches until the panic passes---and it always does (though not nearly as quickly as we'd like!). Are you in therapy or on any medications? Welcome and keep posting, there are some good peeps here.
Thanks for the warm welcome. I'm not on any medication because I have read too many horror stories about the Paxil and Zoloft, etc. I don't want to get started on that stuff. And my goal is to be on as few medications as possible. Currently, the only prescrip I'm taking is for my allergies. I'd like to try to keep it that way, if possible.
I haven't been in therapy since I left college, but I'm actually currently in the process of finding a support group in my area. I find that group therapy works really well for me, because sharing experiences with others helps me realize that I'm not the only one with that particular issue, and I learn coping strategies from others that I may not be aware of. I feel like the one-on-one therapy is ok, but it's not as helpful to me as group therapy.
So, until I find a group, I'm happy just to be here and share my thoughts with all of you fine people. I hope we can all have some great discussions and learn from each other about how we deal with this on a daily basis.